The four unconjecturables

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The four unconjecturables

Postby starter » Sat Mar 26, 2011 12:36 am

Hello Teachers/Friends,

I'm wondering what "The Buddha-range of the Buddhas … The jhana-range of a person in jhana…" mean in the following teaching:

"There are these four unconjecturables that are not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about them. Which four?

The Buddha-range of the Buddhas … The jhana-range of a person in jhana…. The (precise working out of the) results of kamma…. Conjecture about (the origin, etc., of) the world…"

-- Anguttara Nikaya IV.77 (Acintita Sutta)

It's interesting to note that nibbana is not included in these four unconjecturables ...

Many thanks and metta!

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Re: The four unconjecturables

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:00 am

Hi sarter,

http://www.palikanon.de/english/wtb/a/acinteyya.htm
acinteyya

lit. 'That which cannot or should not be thought, the unthinkable, incomprehensible, impenetrable, that which transcends the limits of thinking and over which therefore one should not ponder.

These 4 unthinkables are:

the sphere of a Buddha (buddha-visaya),

of the meditative absorptions (jhāna-visaya),

of karma-result (kamma-vipāka), and

brooding over the world (loka-cintā), especially over an absolute first beginning of it

(s. A.IV.77).

"Therefore, o monks, do not brood over the world as to whether it is eternal or temporal, limited or endless .... Such brooding, O monks, is senseless, has nothing to do with genuine pure conduct (s. ādibrahmacariyaka-sīla), does not lead to aversion, detachment, extinction, nor to peace, to full comprehension, enlightenment and Nibbāna, etc." (S.56.41).

The sphere of a Buddha (buddha-visaya) in other words mean the locality, spot, region, world, realm of a Buddha.
Meditative absorptions (jhāna) must be experienced in order to be comprehended. The jhāna-range of a person, the meditatve absorbtion of a person in jhāna transcends the limits of thinking and over which therefore one should not ponder.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: The four unconjecturables

Postby starter » Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:12 pm

Hello acinteyyo,

Many thanks for your very helpful quote and explanation. I wonder what's the pali word for "aversion" in the following quote and if it's mistranslated:

"Therefore, o monks, do not brood over the world as to whether it is eternal or temporal, limited or endless .... Such brooding, O monks, is senseless, has nothing to do with genuine pure conduct (s. ādibrahmacariyaka-sīla), does not lead to aversion, detachment, extinction, nor to peace, to full comprehension, enlightenment and Nibbāna, etc." (S.56.41).

To my understanding, aversion is also a type of craving -- craving to be away from something, which probably can't lead to genuine upekkha or genuine detachment. The Buddha taught us to abandon both greed and aversion, which are all incoming defilements. I can't believe this teaching is from the Buddha if it's translated correctly.

Metta to all,

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Re: The four unconjecturables

Postby acinteyyo » Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:16 pm

This is the pali of the passage of which you were asking for the word "aversion":

nesā, bhikkhave, cintā atthasaṃhitā nādibrahmacariyakā na nibbidāya na virāgāya na nirodhāya na upasamāya na abhiññāya na sambodhāya na nibbānāya saṃvattati...
(Such brooding, O monks, is senseless, has nothing to do with genuine pure conduct (s. ādibrahmacariyaka-sīla), does not lead to aversion, detachment, extinction, nor to peace, to full comprehension, enlightenment and Nibbāna...)

it's "nibbidāya" a form of nibbidā which means "weariness, disgust with worldly life, tedium, aversion, indifference, disenchantment". The whole passage is not a good translation in my eyes, perhaps "does not lead to disenchantment" would be better and would be less confusing.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: The four unconjecturables

Postby starter » Mon Mar 28, 2011 4:07 pm

"The whole passage is not a good translation in my eyes, perhaps "does not lead to disenchantment" would be better and would be less confusing."

-- I agree. And it's clear to me now. Many thanks and metta!
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